It’s a bit amazing that just over two years ago, Tesla was struggling to hit a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 per week at the Fremont Factory. The target, which proved elusive enough to warrant extreme attention from TSLA short-sellers, was achieved at the end of Q2 2018, six months behind the company’s initial schedule. Over the course of 2018, Tesla delivered a whopping 245,240 cars, a new record for the company.
Since then, Tesla has steadily ramped its vehicle production capabilities, and today, the company is aiming to deliver around half a million electric cars by the end of the year. That’s despite a pandemic that has shaken the world, which has resulted in shutdowns in Tesla’s two production facilities, the Fremont Factory and Gigafactory Shanghai. Giga Shanghai is only in its first year of operations too and is not yet fully ramped.
But Tesla, if any, is a beast of optimism and possibility. It’s the one carmaker that is still growing strong during a pandemic, and its vehicles, particularly the Model 3 sedan and the Model Y crossover, are seeing strong demand from consumers. With this in mind, Tesla has noted that it intends to ramp its vehicle production capabilities to the millions within the next years. It would not be surprising at all if the company announces that it would be producing and delivering 1 million cars by next year.
Such an idea might sound implausible now, but so was the idea of pursuing a delivery goal of 500,000 vehicles in a year that’s weighed down by a pandemic.
What is rather noteworthy is that over the years, Tesla has steadily established itself as a capable automaker that has what it takes to deliver on its goals. The company may not always be on time and it may hit snags with the build quality of its first-production vehicles, but it does stay true to its word. The same is true for Elon Musk. FSD may have been delayed for some time, for example, but the limited beta that’s testing today is very real, and its potentials are vast.
With these milestones comes a normalcy of sorts for Tesla. While the company made headlines when it first broke the 5,000 Model 3 per week barrier, for example, such things are simply unremarkable today. And that’s really where Tesla’s magic lies. The company simply has the capability to make something remarkable seem normal. This was true with regards to the public’s perception of the power and capabilities of electric cars against their gas-powered rivals. This will likely be true when it comes to vehicle production capabilities as well.
This is already starting for the electric car maker. Just recently, data from the Chinese Passenger Car Association (CPCA) revealed that Tesla China was able to produce 22,292 Model 3 in Gigafactory Shanghai in the month of October. This translates to a run-rate of 275,148 vehicles per year. Interestingly enough, leaks from industry insiders have suggested that Tesla China is aiming to produce 550,000 cars in 2021, with 300,000 of those being the Model 3.
Considering Tesla China’s October production figures, it would appear that the company is already well within striking distance of its 2021 Model 3 production goal. It wouldn’t be surprising if Tesla hits a run-rate of 300,000 China-made Model 3s by the end of the year, and it would be quite silly to assume that the company would stop optimizing Gigafactory Shanghai at that level.
If Gigafactory Shanghai can build 550,000 cars in 2021, Tesla would have a pretty solid chance of producing 1 million vehicles in one year. This would no doubt be a milestone for the company. But if Tesla’s previous years are any indication, it would only take a few years before vehicle production rates in the level of millions will be considered expected, or even better, unremarkable. Once that happens, then one could probably declare that the electric car age is truly beginning.